tv [untitled] September 24, 2011 10:30pm-11:00pm PDT
supervisor farrell. supervisor farrell: thank you. first of all, again, thank you to the civil grand jury for their work on this matter, and thank you for those who came before us today. i think, at this point, i would be prepared to accept the finding. i have no reason to doubt that their hard work has kind of really gotten to the bottom of what some people are feeling about commission and city workers right now. however, on the recommendation, i am inclined to disagree here. it would be great to hire more folks, but we at the border faced with the budget for next year. and hundreds of millions of dollars of deficit already. so i would be happy to consider that next year, and we can think about it as a board next year in terms of our overall budget process.
but to recommend it right now, when we heard it was not a necessity, you know, we're in austere times in the city and city government. we need to be very careful about that. so i would be prepared to agree with the finding and disagree with the recommendation. supervisor campos: so that is a motion by supervisor farrell. i do not know if you have any thoughts or comments, president chiu? thank you. i certainly understand the perspective that supervisor farrell has and can supported or suggest in the language that we state that the kit -- the commission should consider the hiring of personnel. but in the context of the budget, i am happy to hear more on that this. president chiu: are we allowed
to amend the language? >> yes, you are allowed to amend the language. president chiu: i see the point that supervisor farrell makes. i think that if we can have a language that leaves the option of hiring open, i would be -- that would be my preference. the reason i see that -- say that is that i do not want us to take a position where we disagree with that finding or with a recommendation and later, you know, find out that, for some reason, in fact, this may be needed. i think that to the extent that there is a need, that there is an understanding that we will get the expert advice from the civil service commission, and that they will let us know what is appropriate. and of course, all of that has to happen in the context of the budget.
so i and understand the hesitation, but to the extent that this finding is in error, it is important for us to leave some flexibility in how to respond to that. i get the point of what the civil service -- what the civil grand jury is trying to say. president chiu: i have no problem with the language in the middle. i am not comfortable with what is there now. if there's language in the middle that would make people more comfortable, happy to do that. supervisor farrell: i suggest and the like, with respect to recommendation number 5, we're comfortable saying that, within budget realities and within the assess the needs of the commission in the future, something to consider if you
want to go forward, something like that. supervisor campos: ok, so can we clarified the motion for the language? it would read that we agree with finding number 5 in respect to the recommendation -- what exactly? supervisor farrell: with regards to recommendation number 5, you know -- i do not have actually any language specifically right now. supervisor campos: i do not know if the city attorney's office has suggestions. supervisor farrell: the point is to reflect budget realities as well as the needs of the commission. supervisor campos: ms. campbell. the budget analyst to the rescue, again. >> good morning.
we could take supervisor, president chiu's language and say something to the extent of, with respect to the recommendation, the board of supervisors will evaluate the need for additional staff, a senior personnel analyst, constraints of the budget and that requirement to the commission. supervisor campos: that sounds good. that is perfect. so we have a revised motion by supervisor farrell. can we take that motion without objection? thank you. madam clerk, please call the next item. >> we are going to item number 3. the hearing -- tabled here in
number one. supervisor campos: we can table hearing never won without objection. with respect to item number two, we can repeat the motion, which is a motion to agree with the findings, and with respect to item number two, and this is something we already did as part of item number one, but if there is any member of the public who would like to provide an additional comment on item number two, which is the response from the board of supervisors, including this committee, to the finding with respect to the civil service commission. is there any member of the public would like to comment? mr. da costa. >> normally the constituents at home rely on some of the information that we get from the controller's office. what we have here is the board
of supervisors in the course of the year not having hearings on something as important as hiring practices. and one of the things missing in how you evaluate yourselves is that we do not have an entity that gives us some sort of quarterly analysis. you presuppose that the city's hiring practices are the best. and billy brown was there. thousands of administrative assistant entered the system. so here we have the aid of the department of human resources making statements, but a lot of them participated in those
shenanigans. so my input, besides what i said on item number one, is that you represent us, but we get very little representation in terms of adjudication, process, and some sort of help to the constituents when it comes to the hiring practices. so we fall back on the grand jury's reports. and the least you can do is put a timeline, a sharp timeline, to see that something is done that balances the constituents of san francisco. thank you very much. supervisor campos: thank you, sir. >> i am patrick. so, interesting to hear
supervisor farrell's attempt at comedy. austere times -- you just give a $20 million tax break to twitter. you just issued $110 million for certificates of participation for the missoni convention center -- mosconi convention center. i am sure supervisor farrell read the article regarding this issue. while it is welcome to supervisor farrell, it is finally addressing part of the problem. you cannot claim that we have austere times if you're not going to require require -- require it being approved by the voters. in addition, if you would do
salary reform before attempting to do pension reform, you would not have such an austere time of things, and you could easily fund that one position. thank you. supervisor campos: thank you, sir. next speaker. >> good morning, supervisors could i am douglas. in regards to item number two, i would like to know whether you had a chance to talk to micki callahan and bill ginsberg? according to my information, the two of them are very influential on the current hiring practices. i think that it is only prudent that the two of them be consulted. i am surprise the both of them are not here, especially mr. ginsberg, given that there was a demonstration against mr. ginsberg on west portal last
sunday. somehow the mayor did not show up in time to see it. anyway, in regards to the hiring practices, i am still wondering, what ever happened to the public demonstrations that happened at the department of public works on army street where there were many minority workers who claimed that they were mistreated and were not given the proper hiring practices? also, i would like to know what ever happened to the x-ray tax which was involved in a so- called wildcat strike, which resulted in a secret meeting upstairs at general hospital and later that night the suspicious death of a union leader? i am kind of wondering if the hiring practices were ever fixed at san francisco general in regards to the x-ray tax, and were the complaints of the workers at the department of
public works on army street were ever resolved? thank you. supervisor campos: thank you very much. any other member of the public that would like to speak? seeing none, public comment is closed. with respect to item two, colleagues, i wonder if we can go back to the motion, and i apologize for failing to do it in the right sequence. if we can take that motion again by supervisor farrell, which is a motion to accept finding number 5 and to expect a recommendation to number 5, the language that was provided to us by ms. campbell. we have that motion. if we can take that without objection. gatt thank you. madam clerk, please call item number 3. >> item 3, hearing on the 2010- 2011 civil grand jury report entitled "san francisco's ethics commission: the sleeping watchdog." >supervisor campos: thank you
very much. i would like to call again on the foreperson at the civil grand jury. before i turn it over to you, i wanted to say that, you know, i have been dealing with civil grand juries for a number of years in different capacities before i was elected to the board of supervisors. i was an attorney for the school district, and there were various reports that, over the years, that were submitted by the civil grand jury that implicated my client that involved the school district. and i really believe that there is a very important role that civil grand juries play. and i think it is a good thing for all government agency, all levels of government to have private citizens who are volunteering their time, who come in with a fresh set of eyes and provide their perspective on how government agencies are
doing or not doing things. and i think that is a very, very and valuable. -- invaluable. i cannot emphasize that enough. from my perspective, the best thing that a government agency can do when dealing with a report from a civil grand jury is to really keep an open mind and really try to understand where the civil grand jury is coming from. there may be agreement or disagreement, but i think that is important to hear that prospective. so i want to reiterate my appreciation for the work you do, and this item relates to a very important function in not just of this government but any government, and that is the role that such an agency plays. so this is a very important
item. again, i want to thank you for the work that was done. with that, madam foreperson -- >> thank you. we appreciate your kind words about the civil grand jury. in some ways, you sort of usurped what i was going to say, which is to reiterate what mr. rothman said. we're 19 individuals, citizens of san francisco, who are working only for the remaining citizens of san francisco to review the various departments and their operations. again, to reiterate, we do act independently. we do not have consultants assisting us. we have access to the city attorney, should we need it. but other than that, these reports are totally investigated by private citizens, the 19 members of the grand jury, and the reports that they write are solely the reports of those citizens based upon the information gathered by the various committees of the grand jury. i think it is important to remember that. our report that we're going to
review now is on the topic of the ethics commission, the sleeping watchdog. i am going to turn this report over to mr. bryant clemmons, who was the juror who chaired that subcommittee for us. thank you. supervisor campos: thank you. and thank you for your service, and welcome to the meeting. >> thank you, supervisors. when i started on the grand jury, and never thought that i would be investigating the ethics commission. initially, it was not even anything we were thinking about investigating. we were looking at something else, and that investigation brought us into the ethics commission for part of that other report. some of the things that we saw other kind of surprised us. because the ethics commission is supposed to be the organization that is watching out for the citizens and making sure that the rest of the government is functioning in the way we expected to. we found a number of things, and
like we said in our report, we're not trying to be a complete review the ethics commission. this is just a small part of the ethics commission. it was not the main focus. but we found a few things that seemed, looking at it with a fresh set of eyes, as you said, just did not make sense to us. so we thought we would bring these things separate from another report to make sure that they got enough information. one of the things that really disturbs us was relating to the sunshine or dance task force. and whenever the sunshine ordinance, whenever the task force found a problem, we noticed that there items have to get sent to the ethics commission for the hearing. from 2004 through 2010, in all of the cases that got sent to the ethics commission, every single one of them got
dismissed. for various reasons. facts did not supported. yeah, one group of individuals found that there was a problem. yet, another group found there was not. i could see it happening sometimes, but every single one has seemed a bit excessive. and it seemed like the sunshine or dance task force was being suppressed by the ethics commission because of the lack of a public hearing on the discussion topics that were brought forward to them. some of the other elements that we found were the membership of the commission and the way that the commission functions, while not directly towards your area, the scope and size of the commission, all the commission members are appointed by the people they are supposed to be overseeing.
and while its -- there were not directed things that we could see, there were items that were not brought up that we thought should have been brought up, but they got sidelined due to the processes that are currently engaged in the ethics commission. and we looked at a number of ways to try to rearrange some of that, and one of the approaches we came up with is one of our recommendations, which is number four, to add an additional members to the ethics commission which are not part of -- not appointed by the people they are overseeing. that they are appointed by independent groups. we feel that adding additional members to the commission would allow the commission to function better, and it would provide additional oversight within the structure of the commission to provide the transparency that the public is expecting with the
ethics commission. and then, finally, the last item i want to talk about is the recording of the commission meetings. currently, there audio recording, which is better than a lot of the commissions, but we feel that as the voice for the citizens and the ones that are supposed to be providing open government, that they do not provide and cannot find money in their budget to televise their sessions. it just seems disingenuous that only one-half of 1% of their total budget -- they cannot find that much money in their budget to spend to broadcast in their meetings, as opposed to providing an audio recording. with that, i will keep my comments brief, so thank you. supervisor campos: ok, thank you very much. why don't we now hear from the ethics commission?
i do not know if -- or from the mayor's office? >> thank you. i am from the mayor's budget office. thank you for letting me speak briefly about this report. the ethics commission, in conjunction with the offices of the district attorney and city attorney, have and will continue to work diligently to approach all complaints received. the ethics commission does investigate a variety of matters on a case by case basis. but the commission does strive to address all complaints in a timely manner. the mayor's office believes that many of the recommendations of the civil grand jury are reasonable. however, either because of limited resources or competing jurisdictions over subject matter or because some recommended changes require voter approval, certain recommendations may not be appropriate or feasible in all instances. with respect to the recommendations needing mayor's
office responses, the mayor's office is believes, for recommendation four, that it would require further analysis, as this recommendation requires voter approval. with respect to recommendations 7, this also requires further analysis. but the mayor's office will work with the ethics commission on broadcasting meetings on the city's television network. supervisor campos: i would like to ask a little bit more about that. i mean, why does that require further analysis? from my perspective, if you are going to have the kind of robust agency that you want to see, then one of the key elements of that is making sure that the public is aware, you know, of what the agency is doing.
and that is why, with respect to the board of supervisors and many commissions, the meetings are televised. and i think that any supervisor here on the board can tell you that we definitely here, from time to time, as we're walking around our neighborhoods are our districts, around the city, people provide specific comments about something we said or did or did not say or deny do, and i think that is important. so why should that level of transparency and scrutiny not apply to the ethics commission, which plays such an important role in making sure that government functions with a degree of, you know, the highest ethical standards possible? what further analysis do you need to have on that? >> well, one of the main things
in our response is there is a budgetary impact or the department does have to find money in its budget to fund the services of the city's television network. but more importantly, and this is for the further analysis comes in, is that there are a finite number of rooms in city hall that are available at certain times. so we would have to look at what time the ethics commission meets in which rooms are available that are hooked up for broadcast. you know, this is the first time that i am hearing of the particular recommendation, so we will work with the ethics commission if this is of the end of the board of supervisors wants to push forward to find the available space that has broadcast capabilities and work with the ethics commission to see what can be done with its budget with respect to funding this particular service. and that is why it requires
further analysis. supervisor campos: ok. i am sure that is something that can be worked out. i think that finding a room in city hall should not be that difficult. but in any event, i do not know if there's anything elsewe see i did not know if you want to add anything? >> did you want me to talk specifically to this? supervisor farrellcampos: it iso you. >> thank you, supervisor. if i could just very briefly address each of the recommendations. >> each of the grand jury suggested a fixed fine structure to have some
continuity. in this particular case, the ethics commission does disagree with the finding, because we believe that there are a host of different reasons were identical infractions occur, and the punishment needs to fit the crime, and that we need to analyze these. we are, however, going to more formalized the nature of the criteria that we determine the kinds, so there is an explanatory process about how we reach the decisions. on the side of finding regarding sunshine -- second finding regarding sunshine, in august of 2010 the ethics commission adopted a series of proposals to treat this differently, including sunshine hearings and public and expediting the process by which the researy ree
full commission for hearing. we refer to the task force and their comments. this past august they issued the response to us. in addition to commenting on our proposals, they suggested a large number of their own. we are currently reviewing those, in the ethics commission plans to consider them at the november meeting of this year. that will, i believe, dissuade some of the concerns regarding sunshine actions. supervisor farrell: do you disagree with the language? -- supervisor chiu: the language we're being asked to consider is all sunshine ordnances deserve a time when hearing. are you ok with that language? >> yes.
the third recommendation regarding the investigation should begin immediately upon the close of the 14-day reply window offered to the city attorney, this the commission agrees with and will endeavor to get to investigations in a fast and efficient method. using the best way it has to prioritize cases. finding for the ethics commission is neutral on. elected officials appoint the ethics commission. obviously the elected are the representatives of the people. if the voters choose to make this change, the ethics commission will switch up the case. finding no. 5, the ethics commission has already acted on prior to this report.
two members of the ethics commission had to request that i am become entered for dismissal or settlement. the ethics commission has adopted a new regulation that a single member of the commission can cause these to be countered for consideration by the full commission. finding number six, we take seriously our ability to track issues efficiently. we're always upgrading our system, trying to make it interactive and user friendly. we certainly continue to do that. we do have a system in place to track records and record request that we think is working, but we are talking with that to ensure request for documents of information are handled properly. finally, on the television issue, the ethics commission has decided to endorse televising its meetings. in